When I was a kid, my mom used to regale me with tales of how, when she was growing up, she and all her friends and junior relations could all go to the movie theater and, for the bargain-basement price of 10 cents, spend the afternoon watching films: Animated shorts for an hour, newreels, plus two movies back-to-back. Another quarter among you and all your friends would get you snacks for the whole group. John Lasseter remembers those days, apparently, because Disney is bringing them back. No, you won't be spending an entire afternoon at your local cineplex for a dime (fat chance, that), and concessions will still put your bank account in the red, but you will be able to get animated shorts before Disney features at theaters around the country, for the first time in almost 50 years.

Disney will first bring to life an animated short featuring everyone's favorite dorky personified dog, Goofy; future shorts will be hand-drawn animation, computer-generated, or a combination, depending on the story. Pixar Animation Studios, now a part of the giant behemoth that is the Mouse House, is spear-heading the revived interest in animated shorts, but (according to this piece in the International Herald Tribune) the idea to bring back shorts as a training ground for animators came from animation-genius Lasseter himself.

I think this is a fantastic idea. Walt Disney himself used shorts as training tools for animators, and Lasseter's first forays into computer animation were a pitch for The Brave Little Toaster (which led to him getting fired -- read all about it in this fascinating interview with Lasseter on CNN from way back in May) and then The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. for the fledgling Pixar. That short featured the first character-animation cartoon done by computer, and the rest (well, after a decade of fine-tuning the shorts by Lasseter and his team leading up to Toy Story) is Pixar history.

What do you think about this news? Do you think it's cool that you'll get to see a bonus short with your Disney features?

[via Frames Per Second Magazine, with thanks to my animation-geek hubby Jay for pointing me there ]